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Why I’ll be voting Liberal Democrat on May 22

8 May 2014

One of the interesting things I learned from a recent Lord Ashcroft poll was the startling fact that three times as many people identify themselves as Labour voters, tribally, as Tories (around 30 per cent versus 10), despite the two parties having roughly similar base support in general elections. This says something about the different way the two groups think; loyalty to the Labour Party runs deep and is emotional, while for Conservative voters the party is pretty much a pragmatic organisation to keep even worse politicians from running the country. I’m not sure which group will suffer more in the long term from the current crisis of party politics; Tories can be detached from their party more easily, but for Labour voters the break may be more bitter and permanent.

Tribal voting can be a frustrating thing, seeing as it involves people making inefficient decisions that harm their own wellbeing; if a broadband provider tripled your bill and then only allowed you to access the internet on Tuesday afternoons you wouldn’t say ‘my father had the same provider as I did and his father before him and there’s no way we’re moving’.

It’s bad enough voting tribally at national elections, but unforgivable at local ones – and tribal voting is one of the main reasons we have such rotten local government. I happen to live in Haringey, officially the worst local council in England one of its latest achievements being this work of genius.

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Yet despite Haringey being infamously awful for a number of years now, the same people continue to get voted in every four years simply because lots of voters are tribally Labour. The party has been in power since 1971, before the current Chancellor of the Exchequer was born, so Labour has now run Haringey longer than the Communist Party ran Czechoslovakia. Don’t people think it’s maybe time to let someone else have a go?

Being on the Red Tory wing of the Conservatives, the Lib Dems are my
least favourite of the major political parties; I can think of a good dozen
Labour MPs I’d vote for because I broadly agree on the important things, but
probably not a single Lib Dem. Yet on May 22 I’m not voting for the Government, I’m voting for my local council: the people responsible for potholes and the like. People can’t seem to understand this basic concept.

When I tweeted my support for the Lib Dems in Haringey, someone replied: ‘Libs in power has given us bedroom tax, 9k a year student fees, 20% vat and zero hours contracts.’ None of which is anything to do with the council!

But what do we expect when we have leaflets such as this one, stating that: ‘If you love our NHS, vote Labour in London on 22nd May.’

London councils have no say in the future of the NHS, so this is a deliberately misleading leaflet, and one that undermines democracy. I would urge everyone in Haringey, whatever their tribal political affiliations and whatever their views on national politics, to vote Lib Dem, and I say this as someone who was roped into standing for the council last time as one of the few remaining Tories in the borough; as it is we came fourth in my ward, behind the Greens. I don’t think my wife even voted for me. More generally I urge people to vote for whichever individuals or group that will provide the best council service, rather than voting on irrelevant national issues.

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Show comments
  • Kate Garner

    I’ll be voting Animal Welfare Party….Why? Because CAFO’S are spreading all over Europe, ruining public health, destroying the environment, putting farmers out of business……and let’s not even get started on the terrible terrible lives and deaths the animals suffer….Intensive farming of animals is extremely dangerous and the EU is using OUR money to back them.

  • tjamesjones

    I agree strongly with the principle here. I was listening to the head of the Green party this morning, and she was mixing sensible things about cyclists and local issues, with truly insane views on trade with the US (bad apparently), and fracking (she doesn’t even want to know if fracking is viable in this country due to some vague religious belief in global warming and against capitalism). I thought, she’d be a good local politician dealing with local issues, but totally out of her depth and inappropriate at the level of the national government. At the national level you need some sort of responsible national stewardship, letting business and culture flourish with a minimal of meddling. For me that’s what the Tories at best stand for.

    • Doggie Roussel

      Did you expect anything else ?

  • Doggie Roussel

    What colour straitjacket would you like, Ed ?

    • Tim Reed

      Yellow, it would seem.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    An acquaintance of mine was cured of Trotskyism shortly after moving to Haringey. It was the very high council tax that did it.

  • Robert_Eve

    Just as long as you don’t vote Lib Dem in the Euros.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    You’ll forgive me, lad, but yours are some of the blogposts I stop reading the moment I come across something stupid. I managed to get through the title about voting LibDem, but then you mentioned an Ashcroft poll and that’s where I quit.

    Ashcroft’s polls are nearly worthless. They are taken over far too long a period of time, stripping them of any political poll’s true validity. The questions are often nebulous and almost abstract at times, the choices are crimped and offer an insufficient breadth of the true choices available, and the full polling internals are not available for review. No serious political analyst would use them as proof of much of anything. They are not serious works.

    It’s really disappointing that this toff is given so much play. His work is shoddy and leading, and doesn’t deserve it.

  • Smithersjones2013

    So let’s get this right Mr Ed is sick of the headlock that Labour have in Haringey so his whizzo wheeze is to vote for a party whose seen its support nationwide collapse since it got into bed with the Tories and who have been slaughtered in just about every election since 2010. He’d be better off voting for the Greens or indeed spoiling his ballot paper. That Ed West is voting Libdem is truly going to rock Labour’s world in Haringey!

    I don’t think my wife even voted for me

    Well if you persisted in indulging in such senseless and self defeating gestures as the above I commend the woman for her concern for the borough.

    PS Haringey is a lost cause. Its a socialist ghetto where Labour have brainwashed or suppressed the vast majority of the population. There is only one solution to West’s problem. MOVE!

    I don’t think my wife even voted for me.

    I don’t think my wife even voted for me.

    I don’t think my wife even voted for me.
    I don’t think my wife even voted for me.

  • David Arthur Allen

    As a fellow Tory candidate in Crouch End ward last time, I can assure Ed that Tories are less endangered in Haringey than he thinks: Conservatives have fielded a candidate for all 57 vacancies on Haringey council. That said, Crouch End ward is full of superannuated hippies and hipsters and must be one of the most achingly liberal wards in the country. In the circumstances, the Conservatives are surely right to field a candidate but focus their campaigning efforts elsewhere? As for the LibDems, they could and should have won control of Haringey borough in 2006 (their high water mark locally) but were more concerned with denying Conservative supporters a single seat on the council than with actually winning the borough: narrowly failing to take several more seats from Labour just to keep Conservatives out of Highgate who would have been their prospective local coalition partners.

  • mitate

    at least you’ve got a decent area of nice new tarmac. never see anything like that round these parts. bert occasionally bungs a shovelful of something black into the odd ‘ole and then backs his lorry over it; but that’s about it. that’s all we get for our thousands a year, ungrateful lot that we are.
    all together now: judge a country by its roads!!!

  • @PhilKean1

    I wonder which would be harder –

    – coming “out” and admit to being Gay, or unashamedly stating an intention to vote Liberal.

    I think it would be easier to admit to being Gay.

  • Justin Hinchcliffe

    One of the LibDem candidates in your ward is Brian Hayley, an ex Labour councillor who was known as Mr CPZ when Chair of the Environment Committee. Conservatives are focussing on Highgate and wards in the East of the Borough. It’s called targeting. Seven of the ‘local’ LibDem candidates don’t live in Haringey, two of their councillor are standing as Independents (inc. Lyn Weber, Crouch end) and a huge number have stepped down as they see the writing on the wall. Like a rat joining a sinking ship? Anyway, am very surprised and disappointed in you, Ed.

    • Ed West

      well, good luck if you can win them and rebuild the party, in the meantime I just want a change and the Lib Dems can realistically win right now.

      • Justin Hinchcliffe

        What do you know about the LDs in Haringey? have you ever seen them in action? Which London Council has the most potholes? And which London council charges THE highest charge anywhere in the capital? Could it be LD Kingston? Talk about jumping into the fire… Man, are you OK?

      • Doggie Roussel

        Librium and Valium are often prescribed for people with your condition, Ed… I suggest you seek professional advice, as soon as possible…

  • George_Arseborne

    Even your wife did not vote for you says it all. Why then wasting time and space putting up this Ed?

  • The_Missing_Think

    All suspicions validated.

  • monty61

    Obviously never lived under a Lib Dem council. If you want relief from a vacuous, hyper-PC, jumped up traffic warden type administration, you are seriously looking in the wrong place.

  • swatnan

    Tactical voting is never a good idea. But PR is.
    And, Local and National/Euro elections should never be held on the same day.
    And Voting should be moved to Weekends, not Thursdays.

  • sarahsmith232

    ‘Fraid i’m going to have to go with – Tories only got themselves to blame for this. By ’97 it had become v.obvious that there was only somewhere in the region of about 7% to 12% of the country that they had the slightest bit of respect for. So, needless to say, a good 90-odd% of the country detested them. So how has Cameron spent nigh on the last 10yrs remedying this? By stuffing then preferencing a boys only Toff dominated Tory party, even worse than that, a boys only Toff dominated party that’s not much in the way of discernibly different from the mid-90s, New Labour Metro set Spad pack. Yet again, another set of Tories that aren’t able to hide from the view the fact there’s only around 7% to 12% of this country that they have any respect for, those being their own, and the rest are all into the swivel-eyed category.
    As Nigel Lawson points out, Thatcher was unusual, she actually genuinely liked the sections of society that voted Tory, but she was a Tory party aberration, since her they’ve reverted to arrogant, class based snobbery, Tory party type – an enthusiastic and passionate detesting of their base.
    Bring on the Scottish yes vote, get rid of him, can’t come any faster for me. Mind you, personally, I think to then go from one arrogant Old Etonian, Toff, Metro set, class snob to the next identikit version in Boris would be stupid and pointless. He’s no different.

    • Hello

      Sarah, I’m sure you’re a lovely person, but you do talk an awful lot of crap.

      • sarahsmith232

        REally? You reckon they are no longer a party that hates most of the country? You don’t think there might be a tinsy bit of an issue with their being so dominated by the Toff’s? You don’t think they believe that those that are not like them and are going to vote Ukip are part of their swivel-eyed brigade? Really? Hmmm, ok, but ‘fraid that doesn’t work for me.

        • Doggie Roussel

          The trouble is, Sarah, darling, that they are not toffs… not in the true sense… they are a bunch of counter-jumpers and upstarts who, backed by new money and the Eton and Bullingdon Club education, project themselves upon the Tufton-Buftons and Herbert-Gussetts as the inheritors of the true aristos; the Wellingtons, Marlboroughs, Devonshires and all the other worthies who laid down the foundations that made Georgian and Victorian England pre-eminent not so long ago.

          Now we are saddled with their in-bred and morally-degenerate successors; Notting Hill and Clapham upstarts who lay claim to the legacy established by so many worthy progenitors.

          In Downing Street we see the dross of genetic miscegenation, weak-chinned, burbling lickspittles who consider they have some divine right to rule over and dictate to the populace of this once great country who have been numbed into apathy and intellectual and servile coma by the likes of Australian megalomanic bushwhackers like Rupert Murdoch.

          • sarahsmith232

            Great comment. Cameron really gave the game away with his – ‘because I think i’d be quite good at it’ response to why he wanted to become PM. Believes he was born to rule, his only interest is to fulfil his personal ambition to become the highest of high-status a male. Job done, so bye then, i’d say. Suspect he’s going to spend the rest of his days down some Oxfordshire country pub getting really quite fat while enjoying being not that far away from an alcoholic. His appearance conscience wife will not be best pleased, expect a divorce to follow shortly after. He should have made a direct B-line for that existence to begin with, it’s what he really is.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      The judges score that rant a 10.

      You should print that rant out and send it off to the Camerluvvies via snail mail. That’ll double-shock ’em.

      • sarahsmith232

        Thanks v.much luvie. That was def’ one of my more -so frustrated at everything and getting to explode into this comment box – comment. Here’s hoping for a good Ukip kicking come May the 22nd.
        Enjoy your day dear.

    • Doggie Roussel

      pant, pant,pant…. Magnifico… the equivalent of a three-minute mile !

      • sarahsmith232

        Tee Hee, thanks dear. Have been described as passionate before, suspect the person may have wanted to add ‘and also hysterical’. Going to go with the passionate tag though.
        I can’t help but be so hair pulling out frustrated at the way that all of societies ills are being filtered through such a narrow, Left dominated, un-free media and it’s leaving so many with no ability to connect with reality. A Spec’ comments sections outburst at least gets to off-set the frustration in a tiny way.
        Thanks for the compliment, really very nice of you, enjoy your day.

    • you_kid

      Children of the Universe
      Power to the People!

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …what about your goat?

        • sarahsmith232


      • sarahsmith232

        Ok, have zero clue what it is your trying to associate me with, but whatever it is it’s obviously clueless.

  • mcboo

    Crouch End doesnt exactly feel Labour any more, any more than Hampstead does, and yet. I think I may be the only other Tory in Haringey and I’m voting LibDem too, probably at GE2015 as well. They’ll be an improvement on the brain-dead idealogues currently running the council.
    I asked Labour if they would support a free school in N8 to be told “There’s no demand and lots of spare places.” Can you imagine the queue to get in if ARK or Harris set up locally.

    Sorry this is a little N8 specific but Ed West started it so blame him……

  • you_kid

    Ed, I think I understand exactly what you are saying.

    Britain could do with a shake up – it is inconceivable why Manchester Central for example is run by Labour councillors for even longer than you outline. Britain has often stagnated in many regions because the system does not really allow for change, many regions on a communal level are in fact one party states. You cannot progress other than by joining that respective party of premeditiated choice.
    This is compounded by a FPTP Parliamentary system which is even more odd than what goes on on council level.

  • Count Dooku

    Great article Brendan. Tories and Lib Dems run by far the best councils in the UK.
    The correlation between Labour elected councils and poverty/poor service is just staggering. What’s worse us that their districts always charge the highest council tax.

  • you_kid

    Turn right – you just know it’s wrong.

  • Raw England

    I can tell you that many, many Labour voters still think Labour is the same party it was 50 years ago, when it was a party composed of actual British people who worked in the interests of actual British people.

    Most don’t yet know that Labour is now far-Left, pro immigration, pro Islam and anti free speech. Most people also don’t realise that Labour puts immigrants before the White working class, and that most of its leaders are actually foreigners.

    • you_kid

      Where did you leave your other sockpuppet, Nigella?
      Does it not agree with you today?

      • Raw England

        Sockpuppet as in another account?

        I promise you, this is my only profile. I really, really have not the time, or, most of all, the desire to have multiple profiles.

        And I should say this says more about yourself than it does me.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …what, did you and all your sockpuppets miss him, lad?

        • you_kid

          No lad, I will pool you with your nat socialist friend here till the end of days. You both display fully congruent views. You are one voice, lad. Just come out, mate. I can assist with that:

          Say it with pride:
          I am a xenophobe and free market hater, that’s why I and my raw england mate here vote UKIP.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            You and all your sockpuppets will rant incomprehensible gibberish ’til the end of days, lad.

            How’s the goat?

    • Keith D

      Spot on. Ever since Tony Blair created New Labour their agenda has been exactly as you describe.
      The founders of the Labour movement will be spinning in their graves.
      As an aside.

      Who’d have thought Cameron needed counselling from this man Blair?

    • sarahsmith232

      You know what, I agree with you on the ‘most of it’s leaders are actually foreigners’ bit but, problem – you just equally go after the Tory version, when I’d say there’s no evidence for it.
      I don’t you’re wrong to pick up on there being an issue with Miliband being Jewish. His brother prided himself on representing a constituency that tried to block Jewish immigration in the early 20th century. An essential part of their identity is that they’re presence in this country is a product of a successful Left-wing fightback against racism/fascism/xenophobic that was blocking immigration. This means that they can’t be reasonable about immigration. Being reasonable about immigration was not an issue for Michael Howard, so the issue isn’t whether someone is white to their very core, it’s who do they align with, how has their identity been formed.
      I’m about as far away from being a person that is pro Labour’s immigration policies as a person can be but my name isn’t Sarah Smith, my surname is far from Anglo. On the stat’s for numbers of people that are classed as mixed race, my existence would add to that. But i’m white and English. White is v.much a part of my identity but that’s a choice, if I wanted to become one the Labour party’s Dianne Abbott-esque, victim of the right-wing, imperialist white, simple minded half-wit squad, I could choose to. Like to imagine I couldn’t ever be anywhere near ignorant and stupid enough though.
      That’s where I think you’re wrong, it’s not about genetic heritage, it’s about identity. Theirs is indeed informed by their not originally from these shores, foreigness. But it needn’t be and not all politicians are a part of that.

      • Raw England

        Brilliant comment. And agreed, Sarah, as I usually do with you.

        But the Tory thing is highly debatable.

        Also slightly disagree with the genetic heritage.

        • sarahsmith232

          Thanks dear, but then you’d have to say that I can’t be English??!!! Surely not?

    • Zool

      Look up ‘common purpose’ It’s a resisted charity yet is political in nature, it’s
      really a front for the PRO-EU movement. They have been putting their own people into power for decades with over 18,000 graduate members wielding enormous power. It has members in the NHS, BBC, the police, the legal profession, the church, many of Britain’s 7,000 quangos, local councils, the Civil Service, government ministries, Parliament, and it controls many RDA’s (Regional Development Agencies). It recruits and trains “PRO-EU leaders”
      to be loyal to the directives of the EU, instead of their own country. It’s a secret PRO-EU government within our government that was setup to smooth over our transition to the EU by removing the barriers behind the scenes.

      • Kaine

        We are the swords in the darkness,the watchers on the walls, the shield which guards the realms of men.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …yes, the usual fascist imagery fits here, as you describe.

          Or, in simpler terms, a good, well-constructed fascism gives every pissant fascist a fascist anthill to p iss from.

          • Kaine

            Not a Game of Thrones fan I see.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              …not a fan of fascism, basically.

              • Kaine

                Are you saying George RR Martin is a fascist?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …I’m saying what I’m saying, lad.

                  Best you not bring your bizarre fantasies into it all again, either.

                • Kaine

                  Word salad. Gotcha darling.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …not even your food fantasies, lad.

  • Colonel Mustard

    “…three times as many people identify themselves as Labour voters, tribally, as Tories”

    And part of the reason for that is the Left’s campaign of harassment and intimidation to de-legitimise political pluralism which has resulted in Tory voters feeling ashamed to admit their political allegiance. I doubt many Tory voters in education, the public sector and La La Quangoland would dare to admit the fact for fear of the consequences for their job security as well as being sneered at as “Tory scum” and “racists”. As long as the left insist on boastfully asserting their supposed intellectual and moral superiority, aided and abetted by their fellow travellers in the BBC, the voting public inclined towards Conservative are unlikely to admit to it, let alone boast about it.

    • AdH2011

      Very true – it’s not socially acceptable to be a Tory voter, particularly if you are part of the working class. You are looked upon as being selfish scum with an attitude of ‘I’m all right jack’

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Right on the button. Most Labour voters are thick and uneducated such as Telemachus etc.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Of course the other main problem is that the leadership of the Tory Party (and I purposefully do not use the word Conservative) have systematically failed to defend the alternative and often opposing conservative values and in doing so validated and amplified the left’s vile, generally inaccurate and mainly dishonest smears.

      It is little wonder that so many conservatives have turned their back on the conservative party when it is led by such a bunch of spineless morons. The contemporary Tory party is no more than the left’s b*tches

    • Rossspeak

      And the same with “environmental issues” – the Eco Warriors shout down and abuse anyone who thinks fracking is sensible, that we should pursue the potential benefits of GM food -or who questions the economic case – or miniscule climate change benefit – of the UK’s “renewable energy” policies.
      Argue any of these issues with a “Green” – and you are given the feeling that you are advocating racism or child abuse!

    • Realpolitik/ fruitcake/ racist

      True, we saw it happen in the USA with the Republicans.

  • Wessex Man

    Pointedly ignored UKip ther I see in favour of one of the most undemocratic, biggest bunch of liars that I have ever come across when out canvassing. Ended up in a pub with several of us from UKip and about the same from the Labour band and drank with them and had a good time, whereas the Lib/dums had pulled down both parties boards.

    • Hello

      “Ended up in a pub with several of us from UKip and about the same from the Labour band and drank with them and had a good time”

      What a surprise. Obsessive ideologues get along. “Wouldn’t it be lovely if everyday was Saturday, Marvin?” “That’s a very good point, Mark. I quite agree. The Tories won’t deliver it.”

    • Ed West

      Im voting for the group of people best able to run my council, not voting on how I feel about the country in general.

      • Alexsandr

        no kippers in harringey?

        • the viceroy’s gin

          His post is only 2 lines, but if you read between them you’ll find it says: “I’m voting for socialists only and anybody even remotely close to conservative (which excludes LibLabCon in their entirety) can go screw themselves.”

          Go ahead and see for yourself. You may have to turn your monitor sideways.

    • sarahsmith232

      Well done Wessex Man, was thinking about doing a bit of leaflet stuffing for them myself, didn’t in the end. I’ll bet it’s a good laugh though.

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